Dr. Kendra Hamilton: Learning Love with Literature


Zoe Montague, Co-Editor-in-Chief

What’s love got to do with it? This question is not just the title of the 1984 comeback song by Tina Turner. It’s also the central question that Dr. Kendra Hamilton’s Introduction to Literature class seeks to answer.

“Love gave me the widest possible opportunity to pull from different periods and different kinds of genres,” Hamilton said. “And it’s turned out to be really fun!”

Dr. Kendra Hamilton | Courtesy of Presbyterian College
Dr. Kendra Hamilton | Courtesy of Presbyterian College

Hamilton has taught this class for four years, two of them at the University of Virginia and two here at PC. During her previous class at PC, the topic was slightly different–forbidden love.

“I just felt like it was too restrictive. Forbidden love is always about parental disapproval in one way, shape, or form,” Hamilton said. “It always ends up being about race or class because those are the primary reasons for parental disapproval.”

Hamilton’s current class starts by going back through history to the very beginning of written love and works it’s way back to the present.

“I think that we have a misconception that today there is less love in the world than there has been in ages past, and I don’t think that that is necessarily true,” she said. “I think we have to work harder to find it because there is so much noise that is provided by our contemporary media.”

Hamilton uses textual works of love ranging from poems written in the 1300s to a movie from the ‘90s.

“In the ancient ballads, people were singing from their hearts and now we have all these multinational corporations that are between the expression from the heart and the audience and they’re manipulating us to make more money. But I think that we can rediscover the truth about the human heart by doing these kinds of explorations,” Hamilton said.

And in case you were wondering, Hamilton’s favorite love story is found in 1958 the film “The Big Country,” starring Gregory Peck. Why?

“[It’s] about finding your true soulmate,” she said, “and what it takes…to make that connection.”